It’s Bittersweet

Life. It's sweet and bitter. Bitter and sweet. It's love and grief. Hard to know one without the other. Grief is love we have known.

Kindness and heartlessness. We have seen and felt both. Without heartlessness, apathy and hate would we know what kindness really is? It would be an interesting experiment to find the result, but in real life we are exposed to the whole gamut of human behaviors whether we are ready or not. Many times we are not ready for the bad things that can happen and don't always expect the good things that do happen.

It has been said that forgiveness cannot change the past, only the future. When bad things happen some quickly rush to blame while others look for a way to help those who need it. It is good to know the cause of events and even better to rush to kindness. Sometimes it is difficult to turn the other cheek, sometimes it isn't practical, but we can forgive to set ourselves free. Then, if we cannot give kindness to our enemies, there is nothing stopping us from doing kind things for others.

For two years I was the caregiver for my wife of thirty plus years before she passed away. Some friends and family have kindly told me this was a great thing that I have done taking care of her. While I do think it was a great opportunity to show how much I really love her, it was really just doing the right thing. Sometimes doing the right thing might be a great thing, sometimes it is the only thing we can do if we really care about someone. I know she would have done the same for me.

While we were going through this last phase of our lives together many life lessons presented themselves. I had to abandon nearly every instinct I had for working a regular everyday job and preserving financial security and property. The sole focus became being caregiver, nurse, therapist, patient advocate, nutritionist, husband, friend, prayer partner, cheerleader and every other role to provide for her daily needs, healthcare and comfort. There was no time for anything else.

I'm still thoroughly amazed by the grievous things, and the great things that happened along the way. We were abandoned by some nearly lifelong friends who had a part in my family being three days away from being homeless while my wife was undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for brain cancer. On the other hand we had good friends, family and strangers who helped us avoid homelessness and also helped to put put food on our table. I thank God that it seemed like when we were just about at the end of our rope somebody would call and ask if there was anything we needed.

If there was any single lesson I learned in church as a youngster it was pray as if everything depends on the Lord and work as if everything depends on you. Not perfect and not always the best decision maker in business or in job choices, I still have tried to work hard and provide for my family. I would rather provide for myself than look for handouts. It is strange when you can't just go out and get a job or two to work your way out of things. I needed help and had to learn to accept it. Help came and kept coming in many forms. It was humbling to learn how many people really cared about us and helping us to the point of personal sacrifice. That, is kindness. Kindness that must be recycled.

Sweet and bitter. Bitter and sweet. My wife passed away on February 13th, 2014. The cancer took a toll on her physical body and eventually ended her life. It cannot touch her sweet spirit that is still in my heart and the hearts of anyone who had the pleasure of knowing her. I still miss her. I'm so grateful to have known her and feel blessed that we had so many great years together. Not bitter, sweet.

by Chris Nielsen ©2014


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Posted in Grief Support, Kindness Article.